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Nick & Tim’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 03 Jul 2003

Location: Medicine Hat (Yes really), Canada

Map2481km

Well here we are in Medicine Hat, on the east side of Alberta. We can see why they built a town here - its got a hill AND a river. We haven't seen either of those for days. We have flown across the prairies so far, well kind of anyway. We left Banff after our bikes finally got serviced and had a late super fast ride down to Canmore and the 'Train Tracks Campsite'. From Canmore we rode to the west side of Calgary, for which is famous for the Calgary Stampede, which starts tomorrow we think. So obviously we missed it. We did have an offer of a backyard to pitch the tent in, but hanging around for 5 days until it started was not on the agenda. Besides, the ride from Canmore was like the great western highway in Sydney, and Calgary, Penrith, say no more. So we were itching to get some big kms under our belts now that we are finally heading east most days. But the wind had other plans... We setout the next day with a short (very) tour of Calgary (and its MacDonalds), and ended up being blown sideways off the road into a campground in Strathmore were we had to sit out the day... They apparently are not the normal winds, although winds are common on the prairies.
To this point the hills had flattened, but the terrain was still rolling hills, not true flat yet. So after camping in the next to highway heat and wind soaked campground we set our targets on Dinosaur Provincial Park, a world heritage site for its beauty, and its Dinosaur fossils. And it was also Canada day of course. So we took some backroads, and ended up having lunch in a town called Rosebury. Small, very country, very community, very Canadian Alberta we think. Well they were just setting up for the tractor pull races, the snow mobile races (with fire truck to wet the grass to slide on), the jumping castle for the kiddies, and of course just after we ate our lunch (standard peanut butter concoctions) they fired up the BBQ for burgers, so we had one of those too. We obviously stood out like a sore thumb, and all the locals were kind of sideways glancing us, so we chatted to one of the local gals who explained the whole events, and suggested we stay, as the fireworks that night would be spectacular. Maybe she meant something differnet, we don't know. We hit the road, and a further 40kms on or so we were ready for the fourth meal of the day, at a corner store run by the happiest smiliest lady in the world. She gave us free maple syrup and walnut icecream too, yum. The approach to the park was amazing, imagine riding along flat prairies, then suddenly there is this big valley, with amazing scenery all around, like Cappadoccia in Turkey, erroded valleys with Hoodoos. Slumped down on the camp spot, 167km our largest day yet, and our neighbour offers us a beer - how can we refuse? So we meet the bird crazy couple of BC who we spent the night chatting too. Very nice couple, super friendly with lots of interesting Canada bird facts. Just ask me what a yellow crested Tweedle bird looks like, I can tell you.
We booked on a tour of the park the next day - a fossil hunt walk thing. We thought we were in for kiddy hell as it was full of young'ens, but it turned out to be great. Most of the park is cut off from the public, so you have to be guided through. And fair enough too, as it is full of fossils, all over the ground. We found this amazing big tooth, bones, scales, all kinds, but unfortunately they have to stay there. Would have been a nice souvenir! The afternoon we went exploring, and while off in the hot dusty dry valley, a massive wind storm hits - we had seen it approaching on the horizon - black swirls, but we didn't make it back in time and got caught in a dust storm. Branches and tents were blown down all through the park (not our trustee roadrunner!), and it was quite the experience. Apparently it caused quite a bit of damage in some places in Alberta. Today we left early (the winds come up in the afternoons - which way they will blow, nobody can tell!) and hit the road. Dusty bumpy dirt roads to rejoin the highway. We get some great looks from people in cars - farmers scratching their heads looking at us, people waving. honking. I guess its a bit weird to see people riding in the middle of nowhere. We did have a nice tail wind today, and it blew us into Medice Hat at about 2pm, 132km and cruising speeds above 30km/hr. Its really flattened out now, and we know we have a few days ahead of it. We will hit Saskatchewan (apologies for the spelling I have no idea), and hopefully knock it over in about 4 days as there isn't even a park to see along the way. Everybody pray for tailwinds! So until next time, flat endless prairies, big blue skies, winds, prairy dogs, and little hot towns, mozzies....
Just a side note - we are eating likes pigs, we have too, we can eat anything, all day, tons of it, and still lose weight, its fun, but its getting a bit ridiculous. Plus, what goes in... means you have to make a few stops each day, very annoying. But what if we can't stop eating when we stop riding? Hesoos, we'll be huge.

See you in the next edition..........